Tomorrow (30 October), Security Council members are expected to be briefed on Cyprus in consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.
DiCarlo is likely to focus her briefing on the 15 October Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/919) on his good offices in Cyprus. Council members will be interested in more information regarding the outcome of Jane Holl Lute’s consultations with the Cypriot leaders and the representatives of the guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the UK), as the report lacks substantial information on the outcome of these consultations. The Secretary-General appointed Lute in July as a UN consultant to meet with the parties and seek their views on the negotiation process. Subsequently, the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit the report on the outcome of Lute’s consultations when it renewed the UN Mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) mandate later the same month.
In the report the Secretary-General expressed his belief that the prospect of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue remains alive. While he refrained from directly imposing any timeframe for a political solution, he emphasised that “continued support for a horizon of endless process without result lies behind us, not before us”, and that an unchanging status quo is not sustainable.
Unlike in his previous reports, the Secretary-General has not made any references to a bizonal, bicommunal federation as the framework for the solution. Over the past several months, the media has reported that the Greek Cypriot political leadership and its President Nicos Anastasiades have been discussing new ideas on the parameters for the solution, including some form of a loose federation or a decentralised federation as concern the powers of the central government. In a 16 October press release, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that he would be open to any new ideas from Anastasiades. Akinci emphasised that any solution to the Cyprus issue should be based on the principle of political equality among the two constituent sides.
Last week, Special Representative and head of UNFICYP Elizabeth Spehar hosted a meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci. The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders announced that they would open two new crossing points in November. Council members are likely to welcome the implementation of this confidence-building measure given that the Secretary-General’s report noted a lack of progress in this area. After meeting with Spehar last week, both Cypriot leaders expressed their readiness to engage constructively with Lute, who is scheduled to meet with both again this week for further consultation. The Secretary-General has stressed that before formally restarting negotiations, the sides should agree on the terms of reference which would represent a consensus starting point for a negotiated solution.
The Council has so far refrained from making any changes to the mandate of UNFICYP despite the lack of progress in unification talks. Some members seem to be frustrated by the protracted political process and lack of meaningful results, however. In addition to emphasising the need for efficiency and effectiveness, the US has stressed the need for peacekeeping missions to support political solutions. The US and some other members with similar views are likely to reiterate this in the context of Cyprus. The meeting tomorrow is likely to play a part in informing the Council’s thinking regarding UNFICYP’s mandate renewal in January 2019.